New Delhi, 03 October 2015
Astrosat, India's first astronomy observatory, will study distant
Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Monday successfully
placed India’s first observatory satellite Astrosat into orbit.
Through this launch, India has joined the select group of countries
that have their own space observatory satellites.
This is India’s first attempt at setting up an observatory in space,
a place from where it can study cosmological phenomena.
The Mission is aimed at obtaining data that will help in a better
understanding of the universe.
The Mission is to study astronomical phenomena. Astrosat is carrying
five payloads, including an ultraviolet imaging telescope (UVIT).
Astrosat is generally described as India’s version of the Hubble
telescope that NASA had put in space in 1990. But experts say it is
not right to call Astrosat India's Hubble as the NASA version is 10
times heavier than Astrosat and is said to cost $2.5 billion, while
India's satellite costs around Rs 180 crore.
Astrosat will put Isro in
a very exclusive club of nations that have space-based
observatories. Only the United States, European Space Agency, Japan
and Russia have such observatories in space.
For the third time an Indian rocket will be launching seven
satellites in a single mission. In 2008, Isro had launched 10
satellites in one go, including India's Cartosate-2A satellite.
Astrosat is designed to observe the universe in the visible,
ultraviolet, low- and high-energy X-ray regions of the
electromagnetic spectrum simultaneously with the help of its five
As planned, the 320-tonne, 44.4-metre tall rocket, PSLV-C30, blasted
off at 10.00 am sharp from Sriharikotta. The rocket, an XL variant
of Isro's work horse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), carried
six other foreign satellites.
This was the 31st flight for PSLV and
10th for PSLV XL version. Through 30 successful flights during
1994-2015 period, PSLV has launched 84 satellites. Twenty-two
minutes into the flight, the rocket took Astrosat at an altitude of
650 km above the earth. Soon after, six other satellites were put
into orbit and the whole mission ended in about 25 minutes. India
has now joined the US, Japan, Russia and Europe, which have their
own space observatory satellites. India will now be the first
country from the developing world to have its own turbo-charged
'mini Hubble telescope' in space.
According to experts, it will not be right to call Astrosat India's
‘Hubble’, launched by Nasa in 1990, because it is 10 times heavier
than the Astrosat and is said to cost $2.5 billion. While the Hubble
space telescope is still working now, Astrosat's life span is five
PSLV-C30 with seven satellites cumulatively weighing 1,631 kg
carried the Rs 178-crore Astrosat, India's first dedicated
multi-wavelength space observatory. A unique feature of Astrosat is
it will provide simultaneous multi-wavelength observation of various
astronomical objects from a single satellite. Till now, Indian
scientists had to rely on the telescopes operated by NASA and the
European Space Agency to study 'radiation bands' that carry
information about neutron stars, newly-born or exploding stars and
the spiralling hot gases around black holes.
Now they can study these using Astrosat’s telescope, Isro chairman A
S Kiran Kumar said. “Today is an eventful day. This mission was not
only looked within our country, but globally,” said Kumar. He added
that Isro had spent almost a decade in developing this full-fledged
For this, ISRO worked with multiple research institutions including
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Indian Institute of
Astrophysics, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics
and Raman Research Institute, which were involved in the payload
development. Two of the payloads were in collaboration with Canadian
Space Agency and University of Leicester, UK.
According to Kumar, ISRO's missions have been either applications
oriented or scientific in nature starting from the first Indian
satellite Aryabhata, which was a scientific satellite, followed by
scientific satellite missions such as SROSS and Youthsat.
Chandrayaan-I and Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM) explored the Moon and
Mars, respectively and MoM released images once in every 2.5 days.
The pictures sent by MOM are used by students and scientists in
various research activities.
S Unnikrishnan Nair, project director at Isro, said Astrosat is
Isro’s gift to the world. “Today, India has taken a giant
technological lead and joined hands with the world to see that the
mystery of universe is unwrapped.”
K Suryanarayana Sharma, project director, Astrosat, said: “The
satellite is doing fine after separation and the satellite centre
has confirmed the intended auto operation that has to happen after
separation, went well. The payloads will start commission one by
one, starting from the eight day.”
The two solar arrays of Astrosat were automatically deployed and the
Spacecraft Control Centre at the Mission Operations Complex of Isro
Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network at Bengaluru took control of
Astrosat. Mylswamy Annadurai, director of Isro Satellite Centre in
Bengalaru said PSLV has done its job. “The first deployment took
place on Monday and in the next two months it will start complete
Astrosat will observe the universe through optical, ultraviolet, low
and high energy X-ray components of the electromagnetic spectrum,
whereas most other scientific satellites are capable of observing
through a narrow wavelength band.